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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 68: 1780, Raids at Cherry Valley, Johnstown, Fort Plain, Vrooman's Land.

[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 972-1008 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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[Photo: Brant's Defiance to the "Bostonians" of the Mohawk Valley, 1780.]

After Sullivan's campaign the valley had comparative repose for a time. So far the lower Mohawk section had suffered little. Its men had gone forth to fight for the common defense and their numbers had been reduced by death and capture. They had received an influx of population from the defenseless people driven in from above, which, however, was no added protection. Destructive raids at Cherry Valley, Johnstown and Caughnawaga and at and around Fort Plain now followed in rapid succession. Brant's Indians also burned the Oneida Castle (at present Oneida Castle), because of the loyalty of the Oneidas to the American cause. The Oneidas then removed to Schenectady, where they were cared for during the remainder of the war. Their warriors frequently joined the Mohawk Valley American forces in repelling enemy raids — notably that of Sir John Johnson's raiders through the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys in October, 1780, and Ross and Butler's raid of October, 1781. It was an Oneida Indian scout who shot and killed Walter Butler at the battle of West Canada Creek, at the end of the latter raid.

The Johnstown and Fort Plain raids were very disastrous to the patriot cause, particularly in property loss, and in the destruction of crops, in the Fort Plain attack. The Otsquago Valley was one of the most fertile wheat raising sections of the Mohawk Valley, which was the granary of the Colonies, from which the Continental armies derived a great part of their bread and other food supplies.

The Fort Plain raid has been described in great detail by J. R. Simms who lived at Fort Plain for many years. We are thus able to give a very full and complete description of one of the many enemy raids which ravaged the Mohawk Valley during the Revolution. This picture can be considered as similar, in many ways, to those of other Valley raids, of which we possess but meager details.

* * * * *

The Sacandaga blockhouse (built 1779) was located two miles southeast of Mayfield and was a refuge for the few scattered families of the neighborhood and to defend Johnstown from surprise by way of the Sacandaga, a favorite route to the Mohawk for Canadian invaders. Its garrison being withdrawn, it was attacked by seven Indians in April, 1780, and successfully defended by one man, Woodworth, who, though slightly wounded, fought them off and put out fires they kindled. The savages fled to the forest and were followed by Woodworth and six militiamen on snowshoes a day or two later. The Americans came up with the savages and killed five of the party, returning with their packs and guns.

* * * * *

Sawyer's History of Cherry Valley [i.e., John Sawyer, History of Cherry Valley from 1740 to 1898] has the following concerning the Indian raid of April, 1780, which completed the destruction of the settlement of Cherry Valley:

"The peace of the [Cherry Valley] settlement was undisturbed during the following year [1779 after the massacre of 1778] and confidence was beginning to return to the settlers, when without warning, on the 24th of April, 1780, a party of seventy-nine Indians and two Tories descended on the ill-fated settlement. Eight of the settlers were killed and fourteen carried into captivity, and the settlement was this time completely wiped out of existence; the Fort, church and the few buildings left after the first incursion being burned to the ground. Thus in a few hours were the results of the labors and struggles of nearly forty years destroyed; the valley returned again into the undisputed possession of the beasts and the birds, and Cherry Valley, a few years before one of the largest and most prominent of the Frontier settlements of New York, was but a name.

* * * * *

Mr. John T. Morrison, the historian of Johnstown, has furnished the following account of Johnson's raid of May, 1780, about Johnstown and Caughnawaga. Mr. Morrison's description is given in the following section (as set off with asterisks). Mr. Morrison's story of the Johnson raid follows, without, quotations:

* * * * *

One of the most unspeakable outrages of the border warfare of the Revolution, and committed by Johnson subsequent to his flight previously described, was the raid upon Johnstown and the Mohawk Valley settlements in 1780. On Sunday, May 21st, of that year, Johnson with about five hundred troops, British, Indians and Tories, by the same route he followed in his flight, that is, by way of the Fish House road. The object of the invasion was to secure certain treasure, which had been buried near Johnson Hall, and certain valuable property and papers, which had been concealed within the building, by Johnson just prior to his nocturnal flight; also to gratify Johnson's vindictive spirit by murdering certain Whig partisans who had taken an active part in the fight for American freedom.

At midnight the raiders appeared at the home of Lodawick Putman, a patriotic Hollander, who resided about three miles northerly of the court house, and in the hamlet now known as Hale's Mills. Putman and his son, the only male members of the family who happened to be home, were dragged from their beds, cruelly murdered and then scalped. Mrs. Putman and her daughter escaped and fled to the Johnstown fort. (The remains of Putman and his son were afterward buried in a sleigh box, and were accidently exhumed some years ago by some workingmen, who were excavating for the foundation of an outbuilding on the old Putman place.) Proceeding to the home of Amasa Stevens, a short distance southerly, a son-in-law of Putman, also an ardent Whig, Stevens likewise was dragged from his dwelling, suffered the same fate as the Putmans, and his body impaled on the garden fence. The torch was not applied to the buildings as the invaders did not care to warn the settlers and the garrison at the fort, but a short distance away.

Following the massacre of the Putmans and Stevens, Johnson divided his forces, sending part of them, mostly Indians and Tories, under the command of two brothers by the name of Bowen, notorious Tories, to Tribes Hill; thence to proceed up the river to Caughnawaga and join Johnson, who was to lead the other division from Johnstown by another and westerly route to this point. Passing through Albany Bush, the invaders were not molested, because the settlers of this hamlet were all Tories. The Bowen forces proceeded directly to the home of Captain Garrett Putman, another prominent Whig, who resided near Tribes Hill. Putman and his son had been ordered to Fort Hunter only a few days previous, and with his family had removed thither. He had rented his house to William Gault, an old English gardener, who had resided at Cherry Valley at the time of the Massacre, and James Plateau, also an Englishman. In ignorance of the fact that Putman and his family had removed to Fort Hunter, the invaders surrounded the house, tomahawked and scalped Gault and Plateau, and applied the torch to the building. It was subsequently discovered that both Gault and Plateau were ardent Tories, so it is probable that the Indians received a bounty for at least two scalps that was not strictly according to the bargain made with the representatives of His Majesty King George III.

[Photo: Dadanoscara-Visscher-Degraff House, 1795.]

Proceeding up the river the invaders continued to murder, plunder and burn, but it is impossible to give the sickening details within the limits of this chapter. While the Bowen forces were engaged in an attack upon the home of John and Harmanus Fisher, (frequently spelled Visscher), two brothers noted for their zeal for the cause of the Colonists, they were joined by the main body of the king's troops under Johnson. The scenes enacted at the Fisher home beggar description. John, Harmanus and Mrs. Fisher were cruelly murdered and scalped. Col. Fred Fisher, another brother, who did not reside with John and Harmanus, but who happened to be there at the time, after he had exhausted all his ammunition, was struck down by a blow on the head with a tomahawk. An Indian than ran up and slashed Col. Fisher's throat, and, believing him dead, took two scalps from the crown of his head. As remarkable as it may seem, Col. Fisher recovered fully from the wounds he here received, and lived a long, honorable and useful life, although two bald spots on the crown of his head he carried to the grave as a memento of the raid of Sir John Johnson on Johnstown and the Mohawk Valley settlements in 1780.

While en route from Johnson Hall to the Mohawk Valley, Johnson and his guerrillas surrounded the home of Sampson Sammons, making Sammons and his three sons, Jacob, Frederick and Thomas, prisoners. The house and outbuildings were then set on fire. Sampson Sammons and his son Thomas were subsequently released, but Jacob and Frederick were taken prisoners to Canada, from whence they afterward escaped and returned to Johnstown, enduring the greatest and almost unbelievable hardships in their flight through the great northern wilderness on their return home.

Following the raid and the destruction of the Sammons homestead, the Sammons leased Johnson Hall and the Hall farm from the Committee of Sequestration at an annual rental of three hundred pounds, occupying the Hall for a period of nearly four years.

* * * * *

"Old Fort Plain and the Middle Mohawk Valley" [i.e., Nelson Greene, The Story of Old Fort Plain and the Middle Mohawk Valley] has the following regarding Johnson's Johnstown raid of May, 1780:

Sir John returned to Johnstown and recovered his buried plate and valuables and about twenty slaves. The plate and valuables filled two barrels. Toward night the militia began to gather under Col. John Harper and Johnson decided to get away, heading for the Sacandaga. The militia were in too small numbers to attack him but followed him several miles. Col. Van Schaick came up with 800 men in pursuit but too late to engage the guerillas.

While halting, on the day after leaving Johnstown, the elder Mr. Sammons (Sampson Sammons) requested a personal interview with Sir John Johnson, which was granted. He asked to be released, but the baronet hesitated. The old man then recurred to former times, when he and Sir John were friends and neighbors. Said he: "See what you have done, Sir John. You have taken myself and my sons prisoners, burned my dwelling to ashes, and left my family with no covering but the heavens above, and no prospect but desolation around them. Did we treat you in this manner when you were in the power of the Tryon County Committee? Do you remember when we were consulted by General Schuyler, and you agreed to surrender your arms? Do you then remember that you then agreed to remain neutral, and that, upon that condition, General Schuyler left you at liberty on your parole? Those conditions you violated. You went off to Canada, enrolled yourself in the service of the king, raised a regiment of the disaffected who abandoned their country with you, and you have now returned to wage a cruel war against us, by burning our dwellings and robbing us of our property. I was your friend in the Committee of Safety, and exerted myself to save your person from injury. And how am I requited? Your Indians have murdered and scalped old Mr. Fonda, at the age of eighty years, a man who, I have heard your father say, was like a father to him when he settled in Johnstown and Kingsborough. You cannot succeed, Sir John, in such a warfare, and you will never enjoy your property more." The baronet made no reply but the old gentleman was set at liberty.

* * * * *

On June 18, 1780, a delegation of Oneida chiefs acquainted Colonel Cornelius Van Dyck, who was then in command of Fort Stanwix, of the danger that was apprehended and of the information that had given rise to the belief that their town was soon to be destroyed unless they transferred their allegiance. The threatened attack culminated in July. "(The Oneidas) too weak to make effectual resistance," wrote General Schuyler to the Marquis de Lafayette on August 18, "but too firmly attached to us to submit, or take part with the enemy, prudently took shelter at Fort Schuyler the day before the arrival of the Enemy, who burnt part of their Village, siezed their Cattle, and destroyed the Crops and even pursued the fugitives as far as the fort."

Because of the scarcity of provisions the Indians were permitted to remain at Fort Stanwix [Schuyler] but a few days. They were, however, under the direction of the authorities, transferred to Schenectady, where, supported at the expense of the Government, they remained until the end of the war.

* * * * *

Soon after the murderous Johnstown raid of Sir John Johnson, Gen. Clinton ordered Col. Gansevoort to repair with his regiment to Fort Plain, to take charge of a large quantity of stores destined for Fort Schuyler and convoy the batteaux containing them to their destination. This caution was necessary to save the supplies from capture by the Indians. Most of the local militia accompanied Gansevoort's command.

Brant was again on the warpath, watching for a favorable moment to spring upon the unprotected inhabitants, and supplied the Tories with information of movements in the settlements. He was early aware of the departure of troops for Fort Schuyler and, when they had gathered at Fort Plain and started on their march of protection for the supplies going by river, on August 2, 1780, made a descent on the Otsquago Valley and the Fort Plain section.

The raid of August 2nd, 1780, by Indians and Tories under Brant, was made from the direction of the Susquehanna valley through the Otsquago valley and the present townships of Stark and Minden to and around Fort Plain. It thoroughly ravaged the Dutchtown and Freysbush districts, culminating about Fort Plain. For that period, the portion of the Canajoharie district comprised in the town of Minden was thickly settled and the people fled to and crowded the forts which were so feebly defended on account of the withdrawal of the militia to convoy stores to Fort Stanwix. The maintenance of this latter exposed post, and the consequent splitting up of the defensive strength of Tryon County among so many forts, was doubtless the reason that so many terrible raids of the enemy devastated the valley, the hostile force escaping before the scattered garrisons and militia could unite for common defense.

In the Minden raid the raiders broke up into small bands, the more thoroughly to murder, loot and burn. From Simms' account, it appears that the enemy remained in this section during August 2 and that night and the next day dispersed in small parties, probably toward the Susquehanna for the most part. This was done to evade pursuit by the militia then marching to Fort Plain and shows how difficult it was for the patriot Tryon county military authorities to check these forays and brings into prominence Willett's effective work in the following year. At the time of the two raids which ended in the American descent on the Canajoharie district with a force of about 500 Indians and Tories, chiefly the former, there were several stockades in the neighborhoods desolated by the savages (for the Tories seem to have equaled the red men in their barbarity). Chief among them, however, was the principal fortification of Fort Plain. Here the garrison was insufficient, without help from the militia, to give battle to Brant's force and, as has been stated, the local troops were absent with Gansevoort's force. Brant's raiders approached the Mohawk from the west by way of the Otsquago Trail and his raiders in bands thoroughly devastated the Freysbush and Dutchtown roads.

The approach of the Indians was announced by a woman firing the signal shot from a Fort Plain cannon. The people were then busy with their harvesting, and all who were fortunate enough to escape fled to the fort, leaving their property to be destroyed. The firing of one signal shot indicated that the people were to flee to the nearest stockade, while two or three in quick succession ordered the settlers to seek safety by hiding in the bush or woods and told that the enemy was between them and the fort. Fifty-three dwellings were burned with their barns and buildings, 16 people were murdered and 50 or 60 captured. The Indians, knowing its weakness, rushed up within gunshot of Fort Plain, after ravaging the Dutchtown and Freysbush districts. Seeber's, Abeel's and other houses were burned and then the savages fired the Reformed Dutch church. The spire was adorned with a brass ball and the Indians, believing it to be gold, watched eagerly for it to fall. When at last it dropped, with the burning of the spire, they all sprang forward to seize the prize. This red hot ball of brass was responsible for many a blistered red man's hand. To make a show of force at Fort Plain, some of the women who had fled there, put on men's hats and carried poles, showing themselves just sufficiently above the stockade to give the savages the impression of militiamen. This ruse was evidently successful for had Brant known how feebly the fort was defended he would probably have rushed this stockade, burned it and massacred its inmates.

The columns of smoke rising from the burning buildings were seen at Johnstown and were the first intimation of this latest incursion. The farmers left their harvest fields and joined Col. Wemple, marching up the river with the Schenectady and Albany militia, but they were not in time to check the work of destruction or cut off the retreat of the marauders. Colonel Wemple, who was thought to be more prudent than valorous on this occasion, only reached the desolated region in time to see the smoking ruins and rest securely in Fort Plain that night. The next morning some buildings, which had escaped the torch the day before were discovered to be on fire. Col. Wemple, on being notified of the fact, said that, if any volunteers were disposed to look into the matter, they might do so. Whereupon Major Bantlin, with some of the Tryon county militia, set out for the scene of the fire. It proved to have been set by a party of Brant's raiders who, as soon as discovered, fled to rejoin the main body. In a day one of the fairest portions of the valley had been desolated. The small forts which were demolished were not garrisoned and had been constructed by the people themselves. The inhabitants of the desolated region had protested against helping the government to keep open communication with Fort Stanwix, when there was constant need for the protection of their own district. The withdrawal of its militia and the consequent terrible result justified their worst apprehensions.

On the news of Brant's approach, Col. Wemple ordered the Schenectady militia out and marched them up the Valley. After a forty-mile march from Schenectady they went into camp, at present Canajoharie village. Here news of the raid reached Wemple.

"Instantly I did order both Regiments to be formed," reported Colonel Wemple, commanding the Schenectady Militia [2nd Albany Co. Regt.] in his dispatch to General Ten Broeck, "& proceed against the Enemy, who were at that time in their full Carear and tho our Numbers were not equal, yet I can assure you I should be void of Justice if I omitted mentioning their Prudence and cool behavior without Distinction to all Rancks. An Altho they had been in full march since early in the morning they came up with such Vigor that the Enemy on our approach gave way & tho in sight we had no opportunity to give them Battle they retired in the usual way."

"Such a Scean as we beheld since we left the River," reads another section of the report, "passing dead Bodies of Men & Children most cruelly murdered, is not possible to be described. I cannot ascertain at present the Number of poor Inhabitants killed and missing but believe the Loss considerable as the People were all at work in the Fields. Some Persons pretend to say not less than one hundred dwelling Houses are burnt."

This raid which culminated around Fort Plain was one of the most destructive made during the war. Brant had with him Cornplanter and other distinguished chiefs. Col. Samuel Clyde sent Gov. George Clinton an account of this affair, evidently written from Fort Plain, as follows:

"Canajoharie, Aug. 6, 1780.

"Sir — I here send you an account of the fate of our district:

"On the 2d day of this inst. Joseph Brant, at the head of four or five hundred Indians and Tories, broke in upon the settlements, and laid the best part of the district in ashes, and killed 16 of the inhabitants that we have found, took between 50 and 60 prisoners — mostly women and children — 12 of whom they sent back. They have killed or drove away with them, upwards of 300 head of cattle and horses; have burned 53 dwelling houses, besides some outhouses, and as many barns; one very elegant church, and one grist mill, and two small forts that the women fled out of. They have burned all the inhabitants' weapons and implements for husbandry, so that they are left in a miserable condition. They have nothing left to support themselves but what grain they have growing, and that they cannot get saved for want of tools to work with and very few to be got here.

"This affair happened at a very unfortunate hour, when all the militia of the county were called up to Fort Schuyler — Stanwix — to guard nine batteaux — half laden. It was said the enemy intended to take them on their passage to Fort Schuyler. There was scarce a man left that was able to go. It seems that everything conspired for our destruction in this quarter; one whole district almost destroyed and the best regiment of militia in the county rendered unable to help themselves or the public. This I refer you to Gen. Rensselaer for the truth of."

Brant, with subtle savagery, had thrown out a hint that he intended to take or destroy the supply flotilla on its way up the river. It was during this invasion that the Indians took the trader John Abeel, living at Fort Plain, and he was afterward liberated and sent back to his ruined home by his son Cornplanter, the Seneca chieftain. Parties of Indians at this time also made minor raids around Fort Herkimer and Fort Dayton, in the Schoharie valley and other sections.

Gyantwachia or Cornplanter, the Seneca chief, was associated with Brant in this Minden raid. He was a son of John Abeel, the Indian trader of Fort Plain, and the daughter of a Seneca chief. Although a half breed he was the leading man of his nation for a period of almost sixty years.

At the close of the Revolution he was not only ready to bury the hatchet but to take sides in all future troubles with the Americans. He became the firm friend of Washington and was perhaps the only Indian war chief, in our borders, whose friendship for the United States was unshaken in the Indian difficulties existing from 1791 to 1794. In 1797 Cornplanter paid a visit to Washington at Philadelphia. He fixed his permanent residence on the Alleghany river in Pennsylvania, where he subsequently lived and died and where his descendants still reside. In 1802 Cornplanter paid a visit to President Jefferson. In the War of 1812 with England, the Seneca chief, then almost 70 years old, offered to lead 200 warriors with the American troops against the English. He was not allowed to do so but some of his nation were with the Americans in the war and rendered efficient service as scouts. His son, George Abeel, held a major's commission and led these red American soldiers. Cornplanter was about five feet, ten inches in height and a chief of fine bearing. He is said to have been a fine orator in the Indian way and, to further the interests of his people, made effective speeches before Washington and before the governor of Pennsylvania. The latter state gave him, in 1789, 1,300 acres of land and the national government paid him $250 yearly, in appreciation of his services rendered the country by keeping his own people in friendship with the United States. In 1866 the legislature of Pennsylvania erected a monument to Cornplanter at Jennesadaga, his village in Warren county in that state, and also published a pamphlet regarding his life and works. The inscription on the monument reads:

"Giantwahia, the Cornplanter.

"John O'Bail [Abeel], alias Cornplanter, died at Cornplanter town, February 18, 1836, aged about 100 years.

"Chief of the Seneca tribe, and principal chief of the Six Nations from the period of the Revolutionary war to the time of his death. Distinguished for talents, courage, eloquence, sobriety, and love of his tribe and race, to whose welfare he devoted his time, his energies and his means during a long and eventful life."

Simms says the age given on this monument is wrong and that Cornplanter was born about 1746 and was about 90 years old at the time of his death. In 1810 Cornplanter visited his white relatives of the Abeel family in Fort Plain, thirty years after the bloody day in which he commanded the Senecas on their raid in this locality.

* * * * *

The Fort Plain raid had a wide extent. Scattering bands or individuals of Brant's raiders, killed and burned over a belt, which widened from the Otsquago Trail at Van Hornesville to a twenty-mile wide stretch when the red and Tory savages reached the Mohawk. Settlers were slain and buildings burned on the south shore, from Fall Hill nearly to the Little Nose.

The Minden raid, in point of loss of life, prisoners taken and property destroyed takes rank as the most destructive which took place along the Mohawk during the Revolution. At German Flats, in September, 1778, 116 houses and barns were burned, but there was no loss of life with the exception of three rangers who were killed while scouting for Brant's force. It was due to the long heroic ride of the noted scout Helmer to German Flats and his warning to the farmers that there was no further casualties. About the same number of barns and dwellings were burned in the Minden raid of 1780, but in addition 16 people were killed and 60 captured. The loss of stock and implements was a most serious one, as it prevented the harvesting of crops and the Canajoharie district was one of the most fertile sections of the valley and was depended upon frequently for bread and foodstuffs by neighboring communities. Its defense of four forts had previously prevented its sacking, but its forts were useless without sufficient men and these were absent on the march to Fort Stanwix to convoy a comparatively trifling amount of stores.

* * * * *

In this chapter are narrated some of the personal experiences, tragedies and details of this hostile foray in Minden township. They show, as nothing else can, what these raids meant to the suffering valley people, just as the experiences of the patriot fighters at Oriskany display the horrors of Revolutionary warfare along the old New York frontier. They also give further information about the families about Fort Plain at that time and furnish some insight into the farm life of the period. They are summarized or copied from Simm's "Frontiersmen of New York."

John Rother, at this time, owned a grist mill and had a farm in the Geisenberg neighborhood. Daniel Olendorf was his miller. Rother owned a big dog which barked and gave warning of the approaching Indians, on August 2. Rother seized his gun and ran for Fort Plank, more than a mile away, followed by his niece. His wife hid in a flax field. As the Indians approached the house the dog set upon them furiously and they stopped to shoot him, the reports arousing several settlers and warning them of danger. The savages plundered and burned the dwellings, the first they fired in that neighborhood. Rother and his niece were chased by one Indian. Not being able to keep up with her uncle, the girl kept falling behind and the Indian gaining. The panic-stricken girl shouted "Uncle, the Indian". Rother stopped and pointed his gun at the Indian who would stop or fall back. This was repeated a dozen times until the two fugitives reached the fort. Rother was afraid to fire for had he missed, both would have been tomahawked and scalped. His wife was not discovered by the savages and also escaped.

Joseph Myers lived four miles southwest of Fort Plain. On the day of the raid, he had gone to Fort Plank to make cartridges, leaving his wife and three children, aged three, five and seven years, at home. Evan, the only girl, was five. Myers had lost a limb and wore a wooden leg. The family lived a mile from the Rothers, before mentioned, and Mrs. Rother was known as the "Doctress", as she dispensed home-made German herb remedies. Mrs. Myers sent the two oldest children to get some salve for the youngest child's head. The oldest brother said he would carry the youngest on his back to the Rothers, let the "Doctress" apply the salve, and then carry him back. Evan was allowed to accompany them. When nearly half-way they heard a gun fired and seeing Indians around Rother's house, started to run home. The savages saw them and several chased them, one of them pinning the two little boys to the ground with a bayonet as they were running pick-a-back. Evan later thought she was not scalped as she did not cry. She was picked up in the arms of an Indian and the savages went to the Myers. Mrs. Myers, hearing the gun shot at Rother's, hid and saved her life. The buildings were plundered and burned. Evan was taken to Canada with other prisoners and, on account of her tender age, was borne on the back of an Indian most of the long, tiresome journey. On their arrival at the Indian village an Indian took the girl in his arms and whipped her. The little five-year-old was then put on a horse led by an Indian, to run the gauntlet. She was knocked off by blows several times and put on again and was considerably hurt but did not dare cry. She was then given an Indian dress and her cheeks painted. She quickly forgot her German tongue during her life with the Indians, who found such a small white child so much trouble that they finally delivered her at Montreal for a bounty. Here she soon forgot her Indian and learned to speak English. She was long in Canada before it was learned whose child she was as she had forgotten her own name. Peter Olendorf, who was captured in the same raid, readily guessed her parentage when she said her father had a wooden leg and lived not far from a fort. Mrs. Bartlett Pickard, with a nursing child, was captured in the vicinity of Myers, and later liberated by Brant and sent home. In order to take her home, Mrs. Pickard claimed Evan was her child but the Indians were not fooled and the pretense was of no use. Mrs. Pickard arrived at Fort Plain, three days after her capture, almost famished and then Mrs. Myers first learned the fate of her daughter. Mrs. Pletts, made a prisoner on the same day in Freysbush, brought Evan back with her, on her liberation from Canada, taking a motherly care of her for which, it is unnecessary to say, her parents were ever after grateful.

David Olendorf was at work with his wife in his barn. He was pitching wheat from his wagon and his wife was plowing it away, a duty that often devolved on women during the war. When he, before the muzzle of a gun, was ordered down from the wagon, she was not in sight and, upon being asked, Olendorf said there was no one else there. A suspicious savage said, "If any one else is in the barn call them out as we are going to burn it". True to their word they did burn it and, after it was set on fire, the woman was called down from the loft. The savages also burned and plundered the house. With other prisoners, the Olendorfs were started on the long journey to Canada, suffering severe privations on the way. Soon after their journey started the Indians asked Olendorf if he could run pretty well and he said "Yes". Thereupon they told him, if he could beat their best Indian runner, he would be set at liberty and this contest the white man easily won. He soon found out why his fleetness of foot had been thus tested, for he was securely bound every night during the rest of the journey. During the dreary march he incurred the displeasure of an Indian, who threw his tomahawk at Olendorf, the blade sticking in a tree behind which the white man sprang. An old savage saved his life. On reaching Canada Olendorf and his wife were separated and he was imprisoned. He then decided to enlist in the British service and desert to his countrymen at the earliest opportunity. While on his way to the New York frontier settlements, with a raiding party under Sir John Johnson, two prisoners were brought in. Olendorf, who was then a sergeant, overheard the men talk in German, and he proposed to them for all three to escape. It became his official duty to post sentinels that night which favored his design and after stationing the most distant one he took occasion on his return to lop several twigs that he might pass the outer watchman unobserved. Securing provisions, he conducted the two men outside the camp at midnight. Observing great caution, part of the time crawling on their hands and knees, the three found the broken boughs and passed all the sentinels in safety. "Now if you know the way to the settlements, lead on for we have not a moment to lose", said Olendorf. One of the captives became pilot and in a few days the trio reached Fort Plain in safety, where they were joyously received by their friends, whom they forewarned of the enemy's approach.

Mrs. Olendorf, then with child, feared longer to remain in an Indian family to which she had been taken and, watching her opportunity when the family were all drunk, to which condition she had contributed as far as possible by freely passing the liquor, she fled for refuge to the residence of an English officer for protection. The family were at first afraid to conceal her, fearing the revenge of the savages. Her condition excited their pity and they concealed her in a closet, where the Indians failed to find her on their search. On the birth of her little son, two English gentlemen acted as sponsors, from whom she had a certificate of its birth. She was finally taken to Halifax, exchanged with other prisoners, and finally reached Fort Plain over a year after her capture. The boy born in captivity, Daniel Olendorf, Jr., became an innkeeper in Cooperstown and his brother Peter was an innkeeper at Fort Plain. Daniel Olendorf, senior, was one of the scouting party which shot Walter Butler the next year at West Canada creek.

Baltus Sitts, of the Geisenberg settlement, was at work in the fields with his wife and so escaped unseen, but his buildings were burned and plundered. Mary Sitts, nine years old, and her grandfather were captured. Sophia Sitts, a five-year-old, was taken by an Indian squaw in the apple orchard. After carrying the little prisoner on her back some distance, the squaw found it too hard and, setting the child on the ground, pointed to the house and told her to go back. The grandfather was taken to Fallhill, where he was liberated at the intercession of the squaw named, who had doubtless received at some time some kindness or favor from the Sitts family. Mary Sitts was taken to Canada, adopted into an Indian family and ever after remained there. A few years later her father went after her and found her, in every thing but color, a veritable squaw. No persuasion could induce her to return and she later became the wife of an Indian, at whose death she married a white man and remained in Canada.

According to Simms, Sophia Sitts was living near Hallsville in 1882, being then at the age of 107 years. Simms says she then distinctly remembered her own and her sister's capture and says she was then five, placing her birth October 6, 1774. This would make her the person living to the oldest known age in the history of the valley. In February, 1883, Mrs. Sitts was still living, being then 108 years old. There is no record of her death, to the writer's knowledge, but she probably passed away soon after. Few women are said to have done so much hard work in their lifetime as this centenarian and for many years she was considered one of the best binders ever seen in a wheat field. Sophia Sitts had three husbands, William Livingston, Joseph Pooler and Jacob Wagner.

Another similar case to that of Mary Sitts is that of Christina Bettinger, taken prisoner near Hallsville. Her father, Martin, was with the militia on the expedition to Fort Stanwix and her mother was taken prisoner, with six children, but was liberated after the party had gone a short distance.

Christina Bettinger, 7 years old, was not at the house but was captured by another party and taken to Canada. She was not exchanged at the end of the war, and a few years later her father found her. He found her living among squaws and practically one of them. She was identified by the scar of a dog bite on her arm. She was given a small cake, baked and sent her by her mother, which touched her sensibility even to tears. She refused to return home and is believed to have married an Indian and, uncouth and uncivilized as she was, remained in her isolated wilderness adopted home. A family of Ecklers, residing near Bettingers, were also captured.

Three brothers, John, Sebastian and Matthias Shaul, then resided at Van Hornesville and were all captured and taken to Canada. Frederick Bronner, living near by, secreted himself under an untanned cowhide, and so escaped capture. The women and children here were allowed to return home by Brant, shortly after. Jacob Bronner, George Snouts and Peter Casselman were captured by the enemy near Fort Plank. After the raid nine settlers without coffins were buried at this post.

The following is copied verbatim from Simms, as probably representative of family border experiences:

George Lintner was among the pioneer residents of that part of the Canajoharie settlements known as Geisenberg in the present town of Minden, four miles from Fort Plain. On the 2d day of August, Lintner went early in the day to Fort Plank, a mile or two distant, to perform some duty. At the end of only a few hours he learned from the signal guns of the neighboring forts, as also from the constant discharge of firearms, which he believed in the hands of the enemy, that the invaders of the territory were numerous and would doubtless find every habitation in the district. The arrival of Rother and his niece and probably other fugitives at this post, told him of the possible fate of his own family, but he dared not proceed thither alone and Fort Plank was too feebly garrisoned to afford a sallying party. His family consisted of a wife and five children, their ages ranging at about 15, 11, 8 and 6 years and an infant of a few months; and being now unable to afford them needed assistance caused him many an anxious thought and fearful foreboding. The names of these children in which their ages stand were, Albert, Elizabeth, John and Abram. During the forenoon, Mrs. Lintner and her children had heard the frequent discharge of guns in the neighborhood but did not suspect it proceeded from the enemy until noon, when they had seated themselves at the dinner table. The mother then began to feel disquieted and said: "My children, we are eating our dinner here and the Indians might come and murder us before we are aware of it". As she said this she arose from the table and opened the door; and instantly she saw a sight that almost curdled the blood in her veins. Scarcely a mile distant she saw a thick cloud of smoke, and at once recognized it as coming from the roof of Rother's grist mill, while in the next moment she heard the discharge of several guns which the enemy had fired into a flock of sheep near the mill. Such omens could not be misconstrued, and snatching her infant child she fled from the house, followed by the other children, down a steep bank into the woods just beyond. Scarcely had they gained this covert when the Indians entered the house and found the table ready for dinner; and, not finding the family in the house, they fired into and then searched the bushes through which the family had passed a few minutes before. Their firing told the fugitives they had not fled one moment too soon. Dispatching the dinner so opportunely provided for them, they plundered and set fire to the house, and only remaining long enough to be sure it would burn, they left it to pay a similar visit to some other dwelling. After Mrs. Lintner had found a favorable place of concealment she discovered that Abram, her six-year-old boy, had become separated from the party, and although she felt a mother's anxiety for his safety, she dared not make a search for him. The lad found his way back to the house well on fire, evidently soon after the Indians left it and had sufficient presence of mind to pull the cradle out of doors. He remained about there all the afternoon and as night came on he dragged the cradle into a pig sty, still standing on the premises, in which he slept that night, too young to apprehend danger. The three oldest children, two boys and a girl, wended their way late in the day to Fort Clyde, which they reached in safety. Mrs. Lintner, with her infant child, remained that night under a hollow tree not far from her late home. A family dog was with her and several times in the evening its bark was answered by another which she supposed belonged to the enemy and which she feared might betray her hiding place. After a night of fearful solicitude, she made her way in safety to Fort Clyde, to find the children who had gained it the evening before. On the morning after he left his home of cheerful contentment, Lintner, having heard no alarm guns, ventured, as early as he dared to go, to learn the fate of his family. Finding his dwelling down, he approached its site with fearful apprehension, but, after careful examination of the debris in which he could find no charred remains, he became satisfied that the family had not been murdered in the house; and while still searching the premises, if possible to learn their fate, he discovered his little boy in an adjoining field following some cattle, evidently not knowing what else to do. He asked him where his mother and the other children were, when he began to cry, being unable to give any account of them except that they ran into the bushes back of the house. The father, having become satisfied that if the remainder of the family were not prisoners on the road to Canada, they might have reached Fort Clyde. Taking the hand of his little boy, thither he directed his steps; where to their great joy, the family were again united; when Mrs. Lintner, in German, expressed her gratitude as follows: "Obwhol wir nun Alles verboren haben ausser den Kleidern die wir auf den Liebe tragen, so fuhl ich mich doch reicher als jezmor in meinen Leben!" ("Now, although, we have lost everything but the clothes we have on, I feel richer than I ever did before in all my life!")

Within a short distance of Fort Ehle (a mile or more from Canajoharie) Brant's raiders surprised and killed Adam Eights and took captive to Canada, Nathan Foster and Conrad Fritcher.

One of the numerous small bands into which Brant divided his force to make destruction more complete visited the home of John Knouts in Freysbush. The site of the Knouts dwelling may still be seen in the apple orchard on the premises formerly owned by Josiah Roof. Here are also the graves of Mrs. Knouts and her children, slain by the Indians. Knouts was made here a prisoner and murdered on the way north after the savages left the settlement. When the Indians entered the house, Mrs. Knouts was busy outside it and hearing the outcries of her children inside, she ran up just in time to see one of them tomahawked. While begging for her other children's lives, she was struck down and scalped with the other two children. Henry, a boy of eight or ten, was taken from the house, presumably by a Tory neighbor, around the corner and told to run for his life. This he did but was seen by an Indian, struck with a tomahawk, scalped and left for dead. On the day following a party went from Fort Clyde to bury these victims, when they found this little boy still alive and able to tell of the tragedy of the day before. He was an intelligent child and said he was running to get back of the barn and so into the woods. He said: "I should have escaped but an Indian met me between the house and the barn, who knocked me on the head with his hatchet and pulled out my hair," meaning that he had been scalped, of the details of which operation he was evidently ignorant. This brave little Knouts boy was taken to Fort Clyde and carefully treated and, after his wounds had nearly healed, he took cold and died. The mother was found lying in the dooryard with the three children murdered with her in her arms. Thus Indians sometimes disposed of their slain, before firing a dwelling, as supposed to strike a greater terror to living witnesses of their hellish cruelty. Her scalp was hanging on a stake, where the Indians had left it, evidently having forgotten it in their great haste to surprise other families. There is a tradition that the Indian who slew her took from her hand a ring having on it a Masonic emblem, discovering which he said: "Had I known the squaw had on such a ring, I would not have harmed her." It is needless to say the buildings on the Knouts place were burned and thus an entire family and their home were wiped out by almost incredible savagery. John Abeel, the Indian trader mentioned elsewhere, had married a Knouts girl, who was probably a relative of this family.

In the general destruction of the Dutchtown settlements in Minden, to the surprise of everyone, the house of George Countryman remained unharmed, since it was well known that there was not a more stanch Whig in the neighborhood. The circumstance remained a mystery until the close of the war. He had a brother who had followed the Butlers and Johnsons to Canada, who was with the Minden marauders. He was a married man and, supposing his wife was at his brother's house, induced the raiders to spare it. After the war this brother in Canada wrote George Countryman that had he known at the time that his own wife was not in it, he would have seen that smoke with the rest.

The house of Johannes Lipe, very near Fort Plain, was saved from plunder and fire by the courage and presence of mind of his wife. She had been busy all the evening carrying her most valuable articles from her house to a place of concealment in the ravine near by. The last time she returned she met two prowling Indians at the gate. She was familiar with their language and, without any apparent alarm, enquired of them if they knew anything of her two brothers who were among the Tories who had fled to Canada. Fortunately the savages had seen them at Oswegatchie and, supposing her to be a Tory likewise, they walked off and the house was spared.

The families of Freysbush who were accustomed to seek safety in Fort Clyde were Nellis, Yerdon, Garlock, Radnour, Dunckel, Wormuth, Miller, Lintner, Walrath, Lewis, Wolfe, Failing, Schreiber, Ehle, Knouts, Westerman, Brookman, Young, Yates and a few others. From the Knouts house the savages went to the home of Johan Steffanis Schreiber, who discovered them approaching and made his escape. They made prisoners of his wife and two or three small children and led them into captivity, a fact recorded on a family powder horn, which is now owned by the state.

Nancy Yerdon was married to George Pletts and lived on a farm owned in 1882 by Philip Failing. She had given birth to twins a few months previous, one of whom had died, and had several other children. The family were living at Nancy's father's house, that of John Caspar Yerdon. On the day of the raid she went to the vicinity of a spring at some distance to dig potatoes for dinner, leaving her nursing child in a cradle in the house. While at work an Indian made her a prisoner and hurried her away to where other captives were being rounded up. The Yerdon house, for some reason, was not approached. After several small war parties were assembled, with their captives, a shower came up and the party took refuge behind a haystack. Here the savages conferred and decided to kill their prisoners if they had to abandon them. Mrs. Pletts, as the weather was warm, was clad only in an undergarment and a skirt, not even having on the accustomed short gown of that period, and thus scantily clad was compelled to travel all the way to Canada. The infant left in the cradle was named Elizabeth and grew up and married Henry Hurdick, who was a jockey on the local racetracks of that day. Maria Strobeck, a "sprightly girl just entering her teens," was also captured with her father at a clearing where they had gone to get some ashes near the Failing farm in the vicinity of Mrs. Pletts, and went with the party as the latter did to Canada. On their way to Canada, Mrs. Pletts and the Strobeck girl, toward whom the former acted as foster mother, were scantily fed. On her return, Mrs. Pletts told her friends that on their long, weary journey they came to a brook in which they caught several small fish which they ate raw, and, although they were wriggling in their mouths, they proved a luxury. On arriving in the Canadian country they were taken into separate Indian families; and, finding many unclean dishes, Mrs. Pletts, who was a tidy woman, voluntarily scoured them clean and kept them so. This act very much pleased the Indians, who treated her afterward with marked kindness. She felt it still her duty to keep a parental eye on Miss Strobeck. Finding her romping with the young Indians, the married woman tried to persuade her to leave them, but "she was so happy with them she would give no heed to the counsel of Mrs. Pletts. Indeed she became so infatuated with the novelty of Indian life that she could not be persuaded to be included in the exchange of prisoners and did not return with Mrs. Pletts when she might. Some six or eight years after the war her father journeyed to Canada and found her, but she could not be prevailed upon to return home with him; and it was supposed she subsequently took an Indian husband and remained there." While among the Indians, Mrs. Pletts was given a sewing needle, which she boasted of using for years after her return and which she prized very highly. Among the prisoners who came back from Canada were Mrs. Pletts and John Peter Dunckel. Years later, when they were well along in years and were then widow and widower, they concluded to unite their fortunes, and came on foot to Dominie Gros, who then lived in Freysbush. And so they were married and none of the ten grown-up children of the couple by former marriages objected or ever considered this unconventional marriage of the old folks as a runaway match. It was an agreeable pastime for the young to hear the old couple relate stories of the war, their own perils included.

Mrs. Dyonisius Miller was made a prisoner in the Freysbush settlement. She had with her a small nursing child. She was placed on a horse which was led by an Indian to Canada. Although the savages generally came down in large bodies, they usually returned in small parties; and prisoners taken near together often journeyed with different captives, some of them not meeting again until their return. As the party of which Mrs. Miller was one became straitened for food, she had but little nourishment for her infant child and, as it cried from weariness and hunger, an Indian more than once came back, hatchet in hand, to kill it, but pressing it to her breast, she would not afford him the desired opportunity. Indians dislike intensely the sound of a crying child. To save her darling, Mrs. Miller kept almost constantly nursing it or attempting to, until her breast became so sore as to cause her great agony. But she saved the life of the infant girl and brought it back safely to her old home, when released. This child, when grown to womanhood, married William Dygert.

Henry Nellis lived near Fort Clyde, upon whose land the post was erected, with his son, George H. Nellis. The latter became a general of militia and man of considerable prominence at a later day. On the day of the raid they both fled to the fort pursued by a party of Indians. At a shot the son caught his foot in some obstruction and fell, his father thinking him killed. The younger man jumped up and both got inside the stockade in safety. A bullet hole through the son's hat showed that the fall had saved his life.

Adam Garlock was riding his horse, when the beast scented the Indians, as horses frequently did in those days. Garlock, thus warned, saw a party of Indians approaching, wheeled his horse about and galloped in safety to Fort Clyde amid a storm of bullets. "This circumstance is said to have aided him in procuring a $40 pension, of which bounty he felt quite proud."

At this invasion of the enemy Elizabeth Garlock was scalped and left for dead on the river road above Fort Plain. She supposed the deed was done by a Tory named Countryman, who had been a former neighbor. He was painted as an Indian. Tories were often called "blue-eyed Indians." Elizabeth Garlock recovered and later married Nicholas Phillips and died at Vernon, New York, at the age of 80 years.

John, son of Thomas Casler, who was an early settler of Freysbush, was captured. On the way to Canada, the prisoners were bound to trees nights, and one night the carelessness of the Indians set the leaves on fire. As the flames neared Casler, he called to the savages to release him. A Tory, in the raiding party, named Bernard Frey, who knew the prisoner well, said to the Indians, "Let the damned rebel burn up." The red men, however, were more humane and saved Casler. A night or two later Casler escaped and, rightly supposing the savages would search for him on the back track, he ran back a short distance and hid to one side of the route. Here he remained while his foes pursued him back and until their return. Then in safety he returned to the ashes of his home. Casler always said, in after life, that he would shoot Bernard Frey on sight; such was the feeling engendered among next-door neighbors around Fort Plain by this murderous warfare. Casler entertained no love for the Indians and, during a subsequent deer hunting trip, killed a red man on a Schoharie mountain.

Warner Dygert was murdered on his farm at the west end of the Canajoharie district. He was a brother-in-law of Gen. Nicholas Herkimer, and kept a tavern at Fall Hill. Dygert, with his son Suffrenas, started out to make a corn crib, carrying a gun as was the universal custom in those days. His movements were watched by four Indians. He set down his gun and, with his tinder box and flint, lit his pipe. Just then he was shot down and scalped. The little boy was taken to Canada, finally returning in the same party with Mrs. Pletts and Mr. Dunckel, before mentioned, and other captives from the Canajoharie district. The younger Dygert finally removed to Canada.

Jacob Nellis of Dutchtown was journeying to Indian Castle on the day of the raid. He was shot down opposite East Canada Creek. His father, who was called the oldest man of the name, saved himself by a ruse. As the Indians approached the house, the old man shouted at the top of his voice: "Here they are, boys! March up! March up!" and the savages fled, fearing the house was fortified. A German doctor and his wife, named Frank, were killed in Dutchtown. Frederick Countryman was stabbed with a spear nineteen times and killed. Brant expressed regret at this and coming up and seeing the corpse made the typical Indian remark: "It is as it is, but if it had not been, it should not happen." An old man named House was captured and killed because the savages thought him too old to bother with on the Canadian march. A girl named Martha House was captured thinly clad and taken to Canada, reaching there after the long, hard journey in an almost naked condition. Her Indian captor treated her kindly. On her return she married a man named Staley, who had also been a Canadian captive.

Regarding Brant, during this raid the following comes from an early writer, Rev. Dr. Lintner, born in the locality and who knew the people and circumstances: "He [Brant] occasionally exhibited traits of humanity which were redeeming qualities of his character. On the evening of the day when the Canajoharie settlement was destroyed by the Indians, some 12 or 15 women were brought in as prisoners. Brant saw their distress and his heart was touched with compassion. While the Indians were regaling themselves over their plunder — dancing and yelling around their camp fires, Brant approached the little group of terror-stricken prisoners and said: 'Follow me!' They expected to be led to instant death but he conducted them through the darkness of the dreadful night to a place in the woods some distance from the Indian camp, where he ordered them to sit down and keep still until the next day, when the sun should have reached a mark which he made on a tree, and then they might return home. He then left them. The next morning, a little before break of day, he came again and made another mark higher on the tree and told them they must not set out till the sun had reached that mark; for some of his Indians were still back, and if they met them they would be killed. They remained according to his directions and then they safely returned to the settlement." The Rev. Mr. Lintner said in a historical address: "Much of the bitter feeling which existed in this country against the mother country, after the Revolution, was engendered by that inhuman policy which instigated the savages to make war upon us with the tomahawk and scalping knife. The bounty offered for scalps was horrible. It stimulated the savages to acts of barbarity and was revolting to the moral feelings and social sympathies of all civilized peoples."

The raiders, after their work of massacre and rapine, camped at a ravine a little to the west of Starkville, still known locally as Camp Creek (because Colonel Dubois and his troops had camped there in 1779, when they formed the Clinton's right wing on his march to Otsego Lake). Here the raiders intended to rest a few days and recruit for their long trip on the return. Brant's stay here was shortened by the approach of the militia, but at least part of his force was in the Minden vicinity two or three days. This shows the retreat of the Tory and Indian forces to have been back up the Otsquago Valley to the headwaters of the Susquehanna and from thence into the Iroquois country.

There is at least one personal experience related of a soldier who probably accompanied Gansevoort's troops to Fort Stanwix, which expedition resulted in the Canajoharie district raid. In the spring of 1780 Jacob Shew went for one of "a class", as then termed, in Capt. Garret Putman's company, for the term of nine months, part of which time he was on duty at Fort Plank. The ranger service often called troops from one post to another. Shew was one of a guard of about a dozen men sent with a drove of cattle from Fort Plain to Fort Stanwix. While encamped near the village of Mohawk they were fired upon in the dark and several Americans were wounded. The fire was promptly returned and there was no reply from the enemy. Shew was also one of a guard sent up the Mohawk with several boats loaded with provisions and military stores. These boats, at that time, were usually laden at Schenectady and came to Fort Plain, where an armed guard was detailed to escort them up the valley. The troops went along the shore and at the rapids had to assist in getting the boats along, which were laid up nights, the boatmen encamping on the shore with the guard.

The aim of these British and Indian raids was to destroy the supplies of Tryon County patriots and crumple back the frontier.

Fort Plain must have been a scene of tragedy enough to wring the stoutest heart. It was manned by a tiny garrison which feared, at any time, its utter annihilation and filled with men, women and children, all of whom had lost their homes and many of whom mourned part or all of their families as dead or captured. Their grief was not mitigated by resentment toward the act of the officials who had left unguarded one of the richest granaries of the opulent valley, to insure the safety of a few boatloads of provisions and supplies.

What was true of Fort Plain was also true of the other posts of the Canajoharie districts, Forts Windecker, Plank and Clyde. Fort Willett was not then constructed. They were all crowded with the survivors of their neighborhoods. The Canajoharie district was thickly settled for that time and that portion of it comprised within the present town of Minden was particularly so, with its fertile Freysbush and Dutchtown sections. It was owing to the very complete chain of fortifications hereabouts that the greater part of the population escaped massacre. The people of Palatine also gathered in Fort Paris and Fort Kyser, and all up and down the valley, the population, left undefended by the absence of their military force, fled to neighboring forts. The fortified and palisaded farmhouses must almost have been crowded by a panic-stricken population and it was only these few well-defended places that escaped destruction.

Simms gives an account of the fortified houses of this section which are here summarized as follows:

In Canajoharie Township: Fort Ehle; Van Alstine house, Canajoharie; Fort Van Alstyne (house of Gose Van Alstyne now destroyed), Canajoharie; Fort Failing.

In Palatine: Fort Frey, Fort Wagner, Fort Fox, Fort Kyser.

In St. Johnsville: Fort Hess, Fort Klock, Fort Nellis, Fort Timmerman, Fort House (a little below East Creek).

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Mrs. W. W. Crannell, an Albany writer, in her "Grandmother's Childhood Tales", gives a picture which might well pass and as well be that of the Minden family during the night of the raid of August 2nd. This account also gives a picture of a Mohawk Valley farm home in the early nineteenth century and the whole is here included:

Seventeen miles from my own home in the county of Herkimer, was situated the old home in which my mother was born. With the exception of Santa Claus, there was nothing looked forward to so eagerly or from which we anticipated so much pleasure as the semi-annual visit to this old homestead. After we left the main road, we drove along a private road or lane, that made its way from one main road to another; a sort of short cut of two or three miles, through the lands of several farmers whose houses were built, as the farmhouses of that period were wont to be, in the center of the farm. When we reached the dooryard, we unbarred the gate and drove through a flock of hissing geese and quacking ducks, up to the back or porch door. The noise of the geese would call grandmother to the door, and her bright, cheery face, crowned with its wealth of snowy, white hair, would appear at the upper half of the door, which was flung open while her trembling fingers were unfastening the lower half. How well I remember the old house, with its porch or "stoop", through which we passed into the "living room". The red beams overhead were filled with pegs, upon which were hung braided ears of corn, stumps of dried apples, or other homely articles which had not been put in winter quarters yet. And then the fireplace — such corn and potatoes as we roasted in its ashes. How often we sat before its cheerful blaze and drank sweet cider and ate apples, while we listened to our elders' tales, until Morpheus wooed us to his embrace. And what fun it was to climb into bed. First to pull the curtains back, and then throw down the blue and white spread, the flannel and the linen sheets, all homespun. If it was cold, the warming pan was placed between the sheets, and then, getting upon a chair, we stept upon the chest near the bed, and with the aid of mother and a "one, two, three", in we went, down, down, down into the soft warm feather beds. Did we ever sleep such a sleep as that in after years?

But I digress; this is not what I set out to relate. When mother and aunts were out visiting the neighbors then grandmother (Nancy Keller), taking knitting, would sit down before the fire and talk of her girlhood.

"Those were hard and dreadful times," she would say. "Some of them I do not remember, as I was a baby when they transpired, but my mother (Moyer) told me that often she would wake up in the middle of the night and hear the sound of a horn, and a man's voice crying out 'To arms! To arms!' Father would run for his musket, and mother would take me in her arms and with my two brothers clinging to her dress, start for her shelter in the woods. All the farmers had some place of safety for their families to run to in case of an alarm. Ours was a hollow place in the woods between some trees. It was just big enough for us to lie down in, and the boughts and underbrush at the sides had been arranged to hide it from the savage eye. One night we had gained the place in safety, our way to the woods being lighted by fires from burning hay-stacks and buildings. I had been ill and I moaned and cried, while my brothers law down as close to mother's side as possible. All at once we heard soft footfalls on the leafy ground; then an Indian passed quickly with a lighted torch, then another and another; how many was never known for we could see them so plainly through the boughs placed over us, that we closed our eyes in fear and scarcely breathed. Yes 'we', for I ceased crying and nestled close on mother's breast. How long did we lie there? We never knew. Measured by what we endured it was ages before we heard father's voice calling, 'All right, come out,' and what must mother have suffered? Every gun shot might be the death call of her husband; every footfall and quick passing shadow, be death personified for her. And when the footfall ceased near her hiding place and the shadow remained stationary, when one cry of the baby in her arms or the children at her side were messengers of instant and horrible death; when at last the shadow started and the feet gave a headlong bound, and a fearful whoop rang out upon the stillness about her; what wonderful control of her nerves she must have had, not to betray her presence by the least movement, and how well we learned, even to the baby, to sustain a rigid silence."

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John Abeel was born in Albany about 1724. He was an Indian trader among the Senecas, where he met the "beautiful daughter of a Seneca chief" and by her had a son who became the celebrated Cornplanter. He was forced by Sir William Johnson to give up his business among the Iroquois because his traffic in rum produced so much drunkenness and misery among them. In or shortly after 1756 he settled at the beginning of the Dutchtown road in the Sand Hill section and built himself a stone house. His grandson, Jacob Abeel, built here the present substantial brick house about 1860. John Abeel settled upon lands secured by patent to Rutger Bleecker, Nicholas Bleecker, James Delancey and John Haskoll, in 1729. They secured 4,300 acres in a body along the Mohawk on each side of the Otsquago and extending up the creek several miles. In 1759 John Abeel married Mary Knouts. At the time of the Minden raid — Abeel was captured by the Indians. He was taken on the flats, between the house and the river. The family were preparing dinner and the table was set with food upon it, when an alarm gun at Fort Plain caused the women and children to run to that near-by shelter.

Arriving at the Abeel house and finding a good dinner before them, the savages sat down and finished it. Some of the Indians brought out food and sat upon a wagon, which stood before the door, to eat it. Henry Seeber, who was in the fort and had a good gun, took a shot at them although they were almost out of range. There was a commotion among them immediately and they scattered at once. Some of them fired the dwelling before leaving. As bloody rags were found about later it was evident that Seeber's bullet found a mark.

It is believed that Cornplanter did not know of his father's captivity under several hours, when some war parties came together not very distant from the river. He had not been a prisoner long when he asked in the Indian tongue: "What do you mean to do with me?" This led at once to the inquiry as to his name and where he learned the Indian language. These things becoming known among the savages, it was not long before Abeel was confronted by a chief of commanding figure and manner, who addressed him: "You, I understand, are John Abeel, once a trader among the Senecas. You are my father. My name is John Abeel, or Gy-ant-wa-chia, the Cornplanter. I am a warrior and have taken many scalps. You are now my prisoner but you are safe from all harm. Go with me to my home in the Seneca country and you shall be kindly cared for. My strong arm shall provide you with corn and venison. But if you prefer to go back among your pale-faced friends, you shall be allowed to do so, and I will send an escort of trusty Senecas to conduct you back to Fort Plain." The chief's father chose to return, and early in the evening a party of Senecas left him near the fort. At the close of the war Abeel erected another house on the site of his burned dwelling. The trader had shown signs of insanity even prior to the war, and after that time, in one of his spells of insane anger, shot one of his Negro slaves through the head, killing him. Neighbors went to arrest him but he seated himself in his door with his rifle and threatened to shoot the first one who attempted his arrest. At the first opportunity he was taken in charge but was not put on trial for the murder, as his unbalanced condition was so marked. As there were no asylums in those days, he was chained to the floor in a room of his own house. Abeel had periodical fits of being very ugly and troublesome and, on such occasions, he would clank his chain and continue a kind of Indian war dance nearly all night. He was handed his food through a small hole with a slide door cut in the wall. As he advanced in years and became enfeebled he was allowed to wander about his farm, and on one of his rambles, he was gored to death by a bull. His death was recorded by Rev. D. C. A. Pick of the Reformed Dutch Church of Canajoharie (now Fort Plain), as follows: "John Abeel, gestorben den 1 December, 1794, alt 70; beerdigt den ejusd mensis anni alt in Michael." — John Abeel died 1 December, 1794, buried the 3, same week, same month and year; aged in the day of St. Michael 70 years.

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On August 10, 1780, Adam Crysler and a band of Indians entered Vrooman's land, on the Schoharie, and laid the broad interval in waste and bathed its soil with the blood of age and youth.

Simms' account is as follows:

In 1780 the savage tread of Adam Crysler with a band of seventy-three Indians almost naked and five Tories, Benjamin Beacraft, Frederick Sager, Walter Allet, one Thompson, and a mulatto commanded by Brant — approached Vrooman's land in the vicinity of the upper fort, about 10 o'clock in the morning. They entered the valley on the west side of the river, above the Onistagrawa, in three places, one party coming down the mountain near the late residence of Charles Watson, another near the Jacob Haines place, then the residence of Tunis Vrooman, and the third near the dwelling of Harmanus Vrooman, who chanced to be with his family in the middle fort.

Captain Hager had gone, on the morning of that day, to his farm attended by a guard, to draw in some hay, nearly seven miles distant from the Upper Fort, the command of which then devolved on Tunis Vrooman, captain of the "Associated Exempts". Although the citizens of Schoharie had huts at the several forts where they usually lodged nights, and where their clothing and most valuable effects were kept during the summer, the female part of many families were in the daily habit of visiting their dwellings to do certain kinds of work, while their husbands were engaged in securing their crops. On the morning of the day in question, Captain Vrooman also returned home to secure wheat, accompanied by his family, his wife to do her washing. The command of the garrison next belonged to Ephraim Vrooman, a lieutenant under Captain Hager, but as he went to his farm soon after Captain Vrooman left, it finally devolved on Lieut. William Harper, who had not a dozen men with him in the fort. The wife of Lieutenant Vrooman also returned home to do her washing.

Captain Vrooman, who had drawn one load of wheat to a barrack before breakfast, arose on that morning with a presentiment that some disastrous event was about to happen, which he could not drive from his mind, and he expressed his forebodings at the breakfast table. Four riflemen called at his house and took breakfast with him, but returned to the fort soon after, to attend the roll-call. Captain Vrooman's family consisted of himself, wife, four sons (John, Barney, Tunis and Peter), and two slaves, a male and female. After breakfast Captain Vrooman and his sons drew another load of wheat to the barrack. While unloading, he stopped repeatedly to look toward the surrounding hills. The grain had not all been pitched from the wagon before his worst fears were realized; descending from the flats near by was a party of hostile savages. He descended from the barrack, not far from which he was tomahawked, scalped, and had his throat cut by a Schoharie Indian, named John, who stood upon his shoulders while tearing off his scalp.

Many of the old Dutch dwellings in Schoharie (the side doors of which were usually made in two parts, so that the lower half of the passage could be closed while the upper half remained open) had a kitchen detached from them, and such was that of Captain Vrooman. His wife was washing in a narrow passage between the buildings, when she was surprised and stricken down. After the first blow of the tomahawk, she remained standing, but a second blow laid her dead, at the feet of the Indian, who also scalped her. The house was then plundered and set on fire, as was the barn, barracks of grain, hay, etc., and the three boys, with the blacks, made captives. Peter, who fled on the first alarm and concealed himself in some bushes, would probably have escaped the notice of the enemy, had not one of the blacks made known his place of concealment; he was captured and taken along for a short distance, but crying to return, he ran to a fence, to which he was pursued by a Tory, Beacraft, who caught him, and placing his legs between his own, bent him back and cut his throat; after which, he scalped and hung him across the fence. Vrooman's horses were unharnessed and given to the boys to hold as were several more, when the Indians were plundering, killing cattle and other animals, and burning other buildings. While the Indians were shooting hogs in the pen, a ball went through it and lodged in the calf of John's leg which instantly brought him to the ground. The horses then ran toward the river and two of them were not recaptured.

The party which entered the valley at the dwelling of Colonel Vrooman was led by Brant in person, who hoped to surprise the rebel colonel; but the services of that brave man were to be spared to his country. His family were also at the middle fort. From the dwelling of Colonel Vrooman, which was a good brick tenement, and to which was applied the torch of destruction, Seth's Henry (with whom the reader has some acquaintance) led several of the enemy to the dwelling of Lieutenant Vrooman, which stood where Peter Kneiskern formerly lived. His family consisted of himself, wife Christina, sons of Bartholomew and Josias E., and daughters Janett (four years) and Christina (an infant), two Germans, Creshiboom and Hoffman (captured at Burgoyne's surrender), and several slaves; the latter, however, were at work near the river and escaped. On hearing the alarm, Vrooman ran to the house, caught up his infant child and fled to the cornfield, between the Onistagrawa, followed by his wife leading her little daughter, said to have had long and beautiful hair for a child. He seated himself against the trunk of a large apple tree, and his wife was concealed a few rods from him in the thrifty corn. The road is now laid between the orchard and the mountain, but at the period of which I speak, it passed over the flats east of the dwelling. His family, no doubt, would have remained undiscovered had Mrs. Vrooman continued silent; but not knowing where her husband was, and becoming alarmed, she rose up and called to him in Low Dutch: "Ephraim, Ephraim, where are you, have you got the child?" The words were scarcely uttered when a bullet from the rifle of Seth's Henry pierced her body. When struggling upon the ground, he addressed her in the Dutch tongue as follows: "Now say — what these Indian dogs do here." He then tomahawked and scalped her.

While Seth's Henry was killing and scalping Mrs. Vrooman, the Tory Beacraft, dressed as an Indian, killed her little daughter with a stone, and drew off her scalp; in the meantime a powerful Indian directed by her call to her husband's place of concealment, approached him and thrust a spear at his body, which he parried, and the infant in his arms smiled. At the third blow of the spear, which was also warded off, the little innocent, then only five months old, laughed aloud at the supposed sport, which awakened the sympathy of the savage, and he made Vrooman a prisoner. His sons and the Germans named were also captured.

Upon the top of this mountain (called by some Vrooman's Nose), which afforded a fine prospect of the valley, the enemy were often secreted to watch the exposed citizen.

John Vrooman, who dwelt where Bartholomew Vrooman afterwards lived, was captured, as were his wife and five children. His house was set on fire but was put out. Adam A. Vrooman, who lived where Josias Vrooman did in 1845, fled to the Upper Fort, three-fourths of a mile distant, after being twice fired upon by the enemy. He had a pistol, and when the enemy gained upon him he presented it and they would fall back, but renewed the chase when he set forward. He was pursued until protected by the fort. On his arrival he was asked how he had escaped; his answer was: "I pulled foot!" From that day to his death he was called "Pull Foot Vrooman". His wife was made a prisoner.

Simon Vrooman, who resided where Adam P. Vrooman formerly did, was taken prisoner, as were his wife and son, Jacob, a boy three years old. John Daly, aged over sixty; Thomas Meriness, and James Turner, young men; Abbey Eliza Stowits, a girl of seventeen summers; the wife of Philip Hoever; the widow of Cornelius Vrooman, and several slaves not mentioned, were also captured in Vrooman's Land, making the number of prisoners in all, about thirty. The five persons mentioned were all that were killed at that time. Brant might easily have taken the Upper Fort, had he known how feebly it was garrisoned.

Abraham Vrooman, who happened to be in Vrooman's Land with his wagon, on which was a hay-rack, when the alarm was given, drove down through the valley and picked up several of the citizens. On arriving at the residence of Judge Swart, who lived in the lower end of the settlement, he reined up and called to Swart's wife, then at an oven a little distance from the house, "Cornelia, jump into the wagon, the Indians are upon us." She ran into the house, and snatched up her infant child from its cradle, returned, and, with her husband, bounded into the wagon, which started forward just before the enemy, tomahawk in hand, reached their dwelling. Vrooman had a powerful team, and did not stop to open the gates, which then obstructed the highway, but drove directly against them, forcing them open. Passing under an apple tree, the rack on his wagon struck a limb, which sent it back against his head, causing the blood to flow freely. He drove to the middle fort, which was also feebly garrisoned.

The destructives burned, at this place, nine dwellings and the furniture they contained, with their barns and barracks, which were mostly filled with an abundant harvest. Ninety good horses were also driven, with their owners, into captivity. Large slices of meat were cut from the carcasses of the cattle and hogs, strewed along the valley, and hung across the backs of some of the horses, to serve as provisions for the party on their way to Canada. Among the plunder was a noble stud-horse, belonging to Judge Swart, and as the Indians were afraid of him, he was given to young Tunis Vrooman to ride, who rode him all the way to Canada. His having the care of this horse caused the enemy to treat him kindly and he was not compelled to run the gantlet.

Before Seth's Henry left the settlement, he placed his war club, which he believed was known to some of the citizens, in a conspicuous place and purposely left it. Notched upon it were the evidences, as traced by the Indians on similar weapons, of thirty-five scalps and forty prisoners. No very pleasing record, as we may suppose, for the people of Schoharie, who knew that several of their own valuable citizens helped to swell the startling though no doubt authentic record of the deeds of this crafty warrior.

On the arrival of Leeck from the Upper Fort, after being so hotly pursued, John Hager (then at work on his father's place), hearing the alarm gun of the fort, mounted a horse, and rode up and informed Captain Hager that the buildings were on fire in the valley below. The hay on his wagon, which he was unloading in the barn, was quickly thrown off, and the few inhabitants of that vicinity were taken into it, driven into the woods, and concealed near Keyser's kill. Henry Hager started with the wagon, when a favorite dog, then begun to bark, was caught by him, and fearing that it would betray the fugitives, he cut its throat with his pocket knife. After proceeding some distance from his house, having forgotten some article he intended to have taken with him, he returned and found it already occupied by the enemy, who made him their prisoner. He was nearly eighty years old, and as he was known to the enemy to be a firm Whig — his sons (one a captain) and several of his grandsons all being in the rebel army — he was treated with marked severity.

The enemy, on leaving Vrooman's Land, proceeded with their booty and prisoners directly up the river. A grist mill, owned by Adam Crysler, a Tory captain, and standing on the Lower Brakabeen Creek, as called in old conveyances, which runs into the Schoharie near the residence of the late Samuel Lawyer, was sacked of the little flour which it chanced to contain, and then set on fire — the Tories, with the enemy, declaring that the Whigs of Vrooman's Land should no longer be benefited by said mill. Several fragments of the millstone used in this mill, which was an Esopus conglomerate, have been recovered from the creek since 1841, and deposited in the cabinets of geologists. The Indians, on their arrival in that part of Brakabeen, burned all of Captain Hager's buildings, and Henry Hager's barn. Henry Mattice and Adam Brown, Tories, accompanied the enemy from Brakabeen of their own accord.

The families of Captain Hager and his brothers were concealed in Keyser's kill. The wagon which carried them from their homes was left in one place, the horses in another, and the women and children were sheltered beneath a rock in a ravine of the mountain stream before named. After the women and children were disposed of, Captain Hager, taking with him his brother, Lawrence Bouck, Jacob Thomas, and several others who composed the guard mentioned, proceeded from Keyser's kill with due caution, to ascertain if the Upper Fort had been captured. It was nearly noon before Brant left the vicinity of the fort, and nearly night before the commandant and his men reached it. On the following day the party concealed near Keyser's kill was conveyed to the fort.

The 10th day of August, 1780, was one of sadness and mourning for the citizens of Vrooman's Land, some of whom lost near relatives among the slain, and all, among the captives, either relatives or valued friends; while the destruction of property to individuals was a loss, especially at that season of the year, when too late to grow sustenance for their families, to be most keenly felt and deplored. The burial of the dead took place the day after their massacre, on the farm of John Keeck, near the fort. The bodies of Captain Vrooman, his wife and son, were deposited in one grave, and that of Mrs. Ephraim Vrooman and her daughter, in another. * * *

The destroyers of Vrooman's Land proceeded in the afternoon about fifteen miles, and encamped for the night. The scalps of the slain were stretched upon hoops, and dried in the presence of the relative prisoners, the oldest of whom were bound all night. As the party was proceeding along the east shore of the Schoharie, in the afternoon, after journeying about six miles, Brant permitted the wife of John Vrooman, with her infant child, and that taken with Ephraim Vrooman, to return back to the settlement. From the late Daniel Hager place, another evidence of Brant's humanity, was still better exemplified the following day. The reader may desire to know the fate of this child, whose infant smiles had saved its father's life. Its mother being already dead, it was necessarily weaned, but at too tender an age, and three months after, it sickened and died. On the morning of the massacre the line of march was again resumed, and when about half way from the Patchin place to Harperfield, Brant yielded to the repeated importunities of several of his female captives, and perhaps the seasonable interference of several Tory friends near, and permitted all of them (except Mrs. Simon Vrooman) with several male children — nearly one-half the whole number of captives — to return to Schoharie. Brant led the liberated captives aside nearly a half-mile to a place of concealment, where he required them to remain until night. Among the liberated captives at this place were my informant, Maria, a daughter of John Vrooman, afterwards wife of Frederick Mattice, and her sister Susanna, subsequently the wife of Hoever and their brother Bartholomew. These ladies knew Brant, who yielded to their importunities and sent them and other captives back. The female prisoners, when captured, were plundered of their bonnets, beads, ear rings, etc., which articles, of course, they did not recover. Word having been sent to Schoharie that those prisoners had been liberated, Major Thomas Ecker, Lieutenant Harper, and Schoharie John, a friendly Indian, who lived at Middleburgh during the war, were then not far from where Mrs. Vrooman had been left the preceding afternoon, with several horses. Placing three persons on a horse, they conveyed them to the Upper Fort, where they arrived just at dusk.

On the evening of the second day, the journeying party reached the Susquehanna. The prisoners were obliged to travel on foot, with the exception of Mrs. Vrooman, and the lad, Tunis Vrooman. The provisions on the journey were fresh meat after the first day, as they obtained but little flour, which was boiled into a pudding. The meat taken from Schoharie was soon fly-blown, but when roasted in the coals it was feasted upon by the hungry prisoners. They progressed slowly, because they were obliged to hunt deer, and catch fish for food on their way, generally having enough to eat, such as it was. Fish they usually roasted whole in the coals. The parties that had been led by Brant and Quakok, the chief second in command in the Schoharie settlements, assembled at Oquago, when several hundred of the enemy, with their prisoners from the Mohawk Valley came together.

While on their journey, Lieutenant Vrooman was once led out between two Indians — one armed with a tomahawk and the other with a knife — to be murdered. Standing on a log which lay across a marsh or mire between the Indians, he addressed them in their own dialect and finally made his peace with them for some trifling offense. His life was spared. The old patriot, Hager, was cruelly treated all the way, and was several times struck upon the head with the flat side of a tomahawk.

On arriving in the Genesee Valley, Mrs. Vrooman, then quite ill, was left there. Adam Vrooman, a brother of hers, from below the Helleberg, on hearing of her captivity, paid her ransom. Some of the prisoners were twenty-two days on their journey. On arriving at the Indian settlements, they were compelled to run the gantlet, when some of them were seriously injured. A girl twelve or fourteen years old, who was among the prisoners made in the Mohawk Valley, was nearly killed, and Simon Vrooman and John Daly were so badly hurt that they both soon died after reaching their journey's end. Vrooman's widow afterwards married a man named Markell, in Canada, and remained there. Meriness was taken to Quebec, and while there, attempted, with several other prisoners, to blow up the magazine. The design was discovered, and the conspirators were nearly whipped to death — two of them did die; but Meriness finally recovered. Negro captives were seldom bound while on their way to Canada, nor were they compelled to run the gantlet. They hardly ever returned to the States to remain, generally adopting the Indian's life. A Negro belonging to Isaac Vrooman, usually called Tom Vrooman, who was taken to Canada at this time, became waiter to Sir John Johnson, and in that capacity passed through the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys in the following October. He was, however, captured by Joseph Naylor, an American soldier, near Fort Plain, and with him an elegant horse belonging to his new master, with saddle, holsters and valise.

The greater part of the Schoharie prisoners were taken to Niagara, where they remained until November, when they proceeded in a vessel down Lake Ontario. A new ship called the "Seneca" left Niagara at the same time with the commandant of that garrison, and 360 soldiers on board. Not long after they had sailed, a terrible storm arose and, in the following night, the "Seneca" foundered and all on board were lost. The vessel contained a large quantity of provisions destined for Montreal, which were also lost. The prisoners were conveyed down the St. Lawrence in bateaus; and some of them suffered much for the want of suitable clothing, being barefooted, because the ground was covered with snow where they encamped on shore over night. They arrived at Montreal about the first of December; from which place, after a few weeks' stay, they were removed nine miles farther, to an old French post, called South Rakela, where they were confined to the summer following and then exchanged for other prisoners. While confined at the latter place, their provisions consisted, for the most part, of salt beef — not always the best kind — and oatmeal; the latter being boiled into puddings and eaten with molasses. When an exchange was effected, most of the Schoharie prisoners, with others, were sent on board a vessel to the head of Lake Champlain, where they were landed, from which place they returned home on foot, via Saratoga. They arrived at Schoharie on the 30th of August, 1781, after an absence of a little more than a year. Hager was gone eighteen months.

After the massacre of Vrooman's Land, the people on the Schoharie awoke to the needs of a strong defense on that frontier. The three forts were supplied with larger garrisons and guards and scouts were sent out to distant exposed points. These defensive measures were taken in time to be of great service during Johnson's great Schoharie-Mohawk raid, which followed Brant's and Crysler's at Vrooman's Land, only two months later.

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Simms says that Fort Plain became the headquarters of the neighboring valley forts in 1780. Whether it was such at the time of the Minden raid is not known. Here a military escort took charge of the convoys of supplies brought up the valley on flatboats, as before stated. This would necessitate a garrison larger than at the ordinary post and the American valley commander would naturally select the post, with the largest garrison and a central location, as his headquarters. Fort Plain was the most centrally located post in the valley and it was also the point where the guard for the boats was located, so that it is probable it was the headquarters on August 2, 1780.

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